Laws of Flawless Implementation
Probably the most important management fundamental that is being ignored is staying close to the customer to satisfy his needs and anticipate his wants. In too many companies, the customer has become a bloody nuisance whose unpredictable behavior damages carefully made strategic plans, whose activities mess up computer operations, and who stubbornly insists that purchased products should work.
- Lew Young (Business Week)
“Flawless implementation” sounds like an impossible dream, like an oxymoron – exactly like “structured, guided innovation” sounded fifteen years ago. However, nowadays this wording is already acceptable, although many industry leaders, managers and experts still do not know how useful it is, how it works and how to use it. I assume, in 15 years the same fate will befall the wording “flawless implementation.”
Any implementation is characterized by endless flaws, and 80% of implementation efforts are spent to overcome these flaws. Flaws of implementation take different faces ranging from lack of critical knowledge and expertise to unexpected eruption of Murphy Law, from exponential accumulation of unpredictable costs far beyond any optimistic budget to unsolvable problems and irremovable obstacles, from lack of shareholders’ understanding to lack of executive and managerial support. Sounds familiar? Yes, of course, it does if you at least once had a bad luck participating in implementation of an innovation. I cannot find any emotion comparable to frustration of seeing the competitor’s success after your own implementation was brought to halt just one step short of victory… Maybe, only frustration of successful implementation of a product which customers, clearly oblivious to all your efforts and pain, don’t want to buy…
Now, let’s imagine – just for a moment – a miracle. Imagine that you – and everybody else involved in implementation – know everything ahead of time. Don’t ask me “how,” just imagine that you know. You know which products customers will buy and which they won’t. You know the sequence of successful products and improvements. You know the degree of improvement that is exactly what customers expect, and which degree would be insufficient or excessive. You know all successful realizations of products, and how to select the best fit to your company’s capabilities. You know which resources will be needed and how to acquire them ahead of time. You even know, ahead of time, which new customers will be interested in your products.
Imagined? Great! Now, please, tell me how different would be the process of your implementation.
First of all, you would implement only successful products that fit your company’s core competency, and stop projects that will fail or would need resources and expertise that you don’t possess. You will implement as wide variety of successful products as possible to attract different categories of customers. You will launch products in the sequence in which customers will accept them. While designing and launching these products, you would avoid all pitfalls and address the problems before they even occur. You would engineer in these products the right degree of improvement. You would prepare all resources ahead of time, and make sure they aren’t allocated for other purposes. You would design the marketing campaigns ahead of time, and address all customers who expect your products with exact messages. Every your product would hit market exactly when customers start feeling that they need it. As a result, every your product will skim the cream off every market and leave your competitors with sour skim milk.
Isn’t that a nice dream? Isn’t it worth your effort to come true, even partially?
A considerable portion of this ahead-of-time knowledge is provided by Laws of Satisfaction of Needs and Laws of Paradigm Shift. The rest is available, too, through Laws of Flawless Implementation.
The Law of Improvement says that step-by-step improvements along the trend rather than leapfrogs provide for flawless implementation; it also states that the next step should start when improvement within the previous step achieves 80% of its natural limit.
Law of Resources explains that next Evolutionary Step is flawlessly implemented only when previous steps prepare all necessary resources for its implementation.
Law of Multiplicity states that every innovative product serves many different needs and might be realized in multiple alternative ways.